20th Century

Transport Moves On

Museum Street in 1934 - the motor bus is overtaking the tram and the motor car waits in the wings. Courtesy of CYC Imagine York.

1910AD - 1935AD

York at the beginning of the Twentieth Century was still very much a pedestrian city.  Horse-drawn trams and cabs had helped the upper classes to move around the city but it was not until the electrification of the trams, beginning in 1909, that the wider population felt the benefit.

An electric tram service was opened from Fulford to the city centre line in January 1910; the line from the city centre to Dringhouses was electrified soon after, following a new route by way of the railway station; and the Haxby Road and Acomb routes were constructed at the same time, involving the strengthening of Lendal Bridge and the reconstruction of the Holgate railway bridge.

Lines were opened from the railway station to South Bank in 1913, (a very short stretch of which is still visible today) and along Hull Road in 1916, when the Haxby Road line was also extended.

Electrification of the trams brought prices down to rates affordable to ordinary working people and made commuting to work a viable prospect for the majority.

The new trams soon faced competition: by 1914 the corporation was authorized to introduce both motor-buses and trolley-buses (buses powered by electricity from overhead cables).  From their introduction in 1915 the buses were run at a loss, subsidised by tramway profits; in 1926 there were only 15 buses and 4 trolley-buses compared with 37 trams.  From 1929 onwards, however, the corporation services increasingly felt the competition of private bus companies which ran to new suburbs beyond the reach of the tramlines.

In 1932, the corporation opened negotiations with the West Yorkshire Road Car Company which had absorbed most of the small companies operating in the York area.  In April 1934 a joint committee of the corporation and the company was established to operate services within the city.  After 1935 these services were provided by motor-buses alone: the trolley-buses were withdrawn in January and the trams in November that year.

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